Goal Setting Part 1: Designing Your Goals

In order to be successful, we need to set goals for ourselves. Having a goal in mind for the gym, your home workouts, or your diet, is just as vital to your success as proper technique or any other piece of knowledge. Without goals, we become lost, lack motivation, and find ourselves taking more frequent breaks from a healthy lifestyle. I want to focus on your goals for the gym, and to eventually tell you about my own experiences growing up and working out.

Structuring Your Goals

The best way to make a goal that you will adhere to is to make it a SMART goal. That means it will be specific, measurable, action oriented, realistic, and timed.

Using SMART will result in a clear, focused goal that you will be more likely to attain.

Staying Healthy

The most important thing in creating goals for yourself is to focus on your health. Forget about how everyone else looks and prioritize yourself as an individual. Most people are rather sensible when it comes to their health and working out. If you have any concerns – random chest pains, bouts of dizziness, etc. – then please see a doctor before you start working out, and follow their advice when it comes to exercising. You should also combine their advice with the knowledge of a personal trainer to ensure your safety.

Unfortunately, people seem to lose their rationality when they are injured, and they will persist with their regular routine instead of modifying it appropriately or stopping entirely. I see it happen all too often, and I’ve been guilty of this in the past as well. If something is injured, you rest it. If you have joint problems or any other physical issue, consult a physiotherapist and certainly work with a personal trainer.

The last point of caution is for those who are grossly overweight. If you plan on doing cardio or plyometrics (jumping), there are a few simple exercises you should do to prevent common knee injuries. For starters, always warm up your knees before a leg exercise.

Perform this simple warm-up for 20 repetitions with each leg before your workout.

The way you protect your knees is by strengthening the muscles around it. If you have no access to a gym, do walking lunges with proper form.

The techniques demonstrated in the video should be applied to any lunge variation.

If you do have access to a gym, use the leg extension machine. You are strengthening your quadriceps so that they may absorb the impact that would otherwise go into your knees.

Body Image

Try not to get caught up in comparing yourself to others. It can be a good thing to aspire to be like somebody else, but it can quickly turn negative as well. Obsessing over other people’s bodies is unhealthy, but drawing inspiration is fine. Envision how you want your body to look. Maybe you had a thinner figure five years ago that you want back, or maybe your friend was able to achieve nice definition in their arms a couple months ago. Having goals that are realistic and within your reach will help you stay focused and motivated, and you will be satisfied sooner rather than later.

Tracking Your Progress

Another thing to keep you motivated is your own progress. Even if you set out to lose 20 pounds, you can be delighted by the fact that you are losing 1 or 2 pounds every week. Write down your results! Consistently losing weight is obviously a sign that you are well on your way to achieving your end goal, so keep your head held high and stick with it. For things that are harder to quantify, such as muscle toning in your abs, take pictures! Take your shirt off, stand in the mirror, and have fun posing every week or two. You will be astounded when you look back at where you started.

Inform the people that are near and dear to you of your plans, and even try getting them involved in the same diet or exercise routine! Making people aware of what you are doing will help with accountability, and having people around you for support will make things more fun and keep motivation high.

Combining Different Goals

Focus on long-term goals, but incorporate short-term goals to keep things fun and interesting. When I started focusing on my squat, bench press, and deadlift a couple years ago, I set specific strength goals for each of those exercises. I knew I was in for the long haul, and it would probably take me close to a year to achieve my desired weights. To keep myself going with a positive frame of mind, I set smaller goals along the way that were easier and faster to achieve. For example, maxing out the tricep press machine in the gym in two months. After maxing that, I set my sights on another machine, all the while keeping my primary goals – squat, bench press, and deadlift – in mind.

Closing Words

Use the SMART principles to help create your own goals, and remember what I said about making everything individualised. You are not trying to become someone else. You are trying to become your best possible self. Healthy competition and a group of friends or family are always encouraged for support.

Keep an eye open for Part 2 coming soon! I will tell you my story from childhood to adulthood, and how I tried to keep a level head despite always being surrounded by people who were bigger and stronger than me.

Until next time,

Justin Dickins

Owner and Lead Trainer